Category Archives: Making sound decisions

Benchmarking Online Learning

2015tm

 

 

Fascinating data.

 WHAT KEEPS WORKERS FROM LEARNING ONLINE?
63% lack of time for self-study
40% can’t find what they need
41% find current online learning not relevant to their need
28% lack of somewhere appropriate to study
26% find learning content uninspiring
25% technology issues such as low bandwidth
22% learning objectives are not clear

This is one of thousands of findings from benchmarking studies drawing on the experiences of more than 3,500 L&D professionals and 16,000 learners.

WHAT DO LEARNERS VALUE HIGHLY FOR LEARNING?
91% team collaboration
81% manager support
73% web search
83% conversations / meetings
67% support from mentor / coach / buddy
64% formal education course55% internal company documents
52% internal networks / communities
50% mobile
49% live online learning
47% self-paced e-learning

Twelve years ago, my friend Laura Overton (we worked at SmartForce together) founded Towards Maturity to benchmark learning across organizations. 

Benchmarking is the process of comparing business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and/or best practices from other industries. Benchmarking provides an opportunity to:

Review your progress and approach
Compare your results and approach with others – both your peers and the top performers in the field
Act on the findings to improve your performance

The Towards Maturity Benchmark is the only free, independent and confidential formal benchmark available to learning and development professionals.

WHAT MOTIVATES STAFF TO LEARN ONLINE?
75% want to be able to do their job faster and better
51% like to learn just for personal development
50% want to be eligible for promotion
47% want to obtain professional certification
41% want to be enabled to earn more money
39% want to keep up with new technology
35% want to achieve/maintain a higher certification level
35% want to increase productivity
22% want to pass an assessment
10% want to compete against colleagues for a high score

Benchmarking provides independent evidence that can helps organizations:

Set a baseline today to help demonstrate progress tomorrow
Increase staff engagement and results
Learn from common mistakes rather than making them
Justify an investment or proposal for change
Apply industry best practice relevant to your organization
Set ‘SMART’ targets in your business plan
Motivate your team to become industry leaders
Provide an external perspective to get stakeholders engaged with new ways of learning

Towards Maturity’s work to-date has focused on Europe, but the firm is going global. If you want to explore the topic of benchmarking, I suggest you speak with Laura at:

  • DevLearn, 28-30 September, Las Vegas
  • Learning@Work, 27-28 October, Sydney
  • LEARNTech Asia, 2-5 November, Singapore
  • Online Educa Berlin, 2-4 December, Berlin

LauraOverton

Contact Laura Overton at [email protected] for more information. Say hi for me.

Disclosure: Laura and I are planning a joint session at Online Educa that ties together the findings of benchmarks and the competencies addressed in my new book.

Project Aha!

Aha! is a set of practices I’m developing to help pull-workers learn to learn. I’m investigating what it takes for a learner to become self-sufficient, to both learn and design learning experiences. I’d like to make that easier.

books

My bookshelves groan under more than 200 books on learning and development. (I’ve recycled many to get down to this.) They contain studies of learning from the frameworks of design, teaching, networks, tech, brain science, and positive psychology. How many books look at learning from the point of view of the learner? None that I know of. Nada. It’s time to design some self-help.

As corporations flatten and digitize, millions of people are being handed responsibility for their own learning, by plan or by default. Corporations that decentralize often leave people to sink or swim. Learning — that ultimate competitive advantage in a fast-changing world — is too important to leave to chance any longer. Besides, learning can be a fulfilling, nourishing aspect of work; folks need to know how to make the best of it.

As business grows ever more complex, fast, and confusing, the quality of learning must increase. Learning professionals know a lot about ideal conditions for learning and what blend of things works when. Rarely have they shared this wisdom with the greater enterprise community. Hence, there are a number of opportuities to tweak how people learn that can have profound changes in the level of “working smarter.” It’s virgin territory. Sharing the wisdom surrounding learning with the people who need it. It can be a game changer.

snoop

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has just been told she’s responsible for her own learning. It’s like the dog that got on the bus: Now what do I do? I want to give her a helping hand and a few directions. (My monkey mind just whispered in my ear: Make it a comic book. Who knows.) I want this person to leverage networks, learn with the work team, and have a personal strategy for acquiring, interpreting, acting on, and storing knowledge.

People are becoming forced to act as their own instructional designers, plotting the best personal knowledge strategies and routines. This requires some of adult learning theory’s secret sauce, which we propose to boil down and include in our kit.

In 1978, I remember seeing my first copy of Training magazine and soon thereafter turning on to the work of instructional pioneers like Robert Mager, Gloria Gery, Malcolm Knowles, Joe Harless, and Ron Zemke. It was all new to me. I wasn’t aware there was an entire training industry. We didn’t deal with this when I went to Business School. Instructional design? Never heard of it. Nor have most business executives, and that’s an obstacle. They don’t yet understand the enormous impact of amping up learning in the workplace.

Before I saw that Training magazine, I’d been designing a large instructional system in the dark: I hadn’t been aware of the vast amount of evidence on learning the instructional design community had assembled. (I was a former computer salesman and Army officer.) I led a team that created 120 hours of interactive exercises to teach business and management skills. Design was 100% gut feel and watching what worked. Out of ignorance, I made a number of things less fun and more arduous than need be. That was a 1.0 curriculum, the adult students loved it, but I still feel negligent just knowing how much more it could have meant to them. A thousand people in the Bay Area took that course in the first 18 months; I’m sorry we could not have helped them learn more. Were I to do something like this again, I’d be able to take an enlightened approach. I want to share that how-to with workers everywhere.

The obscurity of Instructional Design outside of the L&D community compels me to provide a brief orientation to ID and a minimalist take on how to use it as part of building learn-to-learn skills.

kin

I plan to write an eBook on learning for learners. Later this may morph into a playlist of experiential exercises; that generally works a lot better than books. But I have to start by pinning down the subject matter and examples.

This will be a Lean Start-Up. I plan to hammer out version 1.0 of the book mercilessly and a little Gonzo. I’ll price it cheap. If learners, not training departments, buy it, I’ll add research, collect the best examples, take polls, spiff it up, and continuously refresh the book.

What’s with the Aha!? I needed a short name for this project. Aha! is the sound of enlightenment. It’s what I hope to hear from the people who learn to learn.

I am open to collaboration on this project. If you’ve got something that works or suggestions, let’s talk.

Who’s the best at helping their people learn?

Do you know of anybody who has tackled preparing independent learners to master complex subjects?

I’ve opened a community on Google+ for articles and discussion. In the spirit of Working Smarter, I intend to work out loud on Aha! Please join in the shouting.

 

 

 

 

 

Timing is Everything

Your perspective on time is vital to the way you make decisions and lead your life. Right now your mind is looking to the past for viable solutions or monitoring present resources or scanning the future for new opportunities. You’re shaped by your focus on what’s gone by, what’s here now, or what’s coming next.

orsay

The MindTime Project has devoted two decades to studying these three time perspectives. They’ve derived a simple diagnostic tool that can pinpoint your time perspective in less than a minute.

Try it. Are you a past thinker, a present thinker, or a future thinker?

Past thinkers gather as much data as possible and are concerned with accuracy and truth. They refuse to take anything at face value. Refusing to trust that “everything will work out,” they attempt to reduce the risk of negative outcomes. They are reflective.

Present thinkers take action and seek control over unfolding events. They abhor chaos and confusion and are driven to establish balance and order, create structure, and get things done. They are practical.

Future thinkers are open to possibilities. They seek out new opportunities and intuit what the future will bring. They are visionaries who promote their visions with enthusiasm and energy. They push the limits of what is known and understood. They are imaginative.

Understanding where you stand on the time horizon is enlightening, but the big payoff comes when you interact with others. For example, I’m a future thinker. That explains why I get upset with Past thinkers who slam me for not providing footnotes and with Present thinkers who want to hold up the show for something I consider inconsequential. The MindTime Framework helps me understand where the others are coming from and appreciate how to work with them.

mindtime(image Copyright 2009 MIndTime)

MindTime can create maps of your organization that reveal the invisible thinking forces that are moving you forward or holding you back. You saw such a map of Chief Learning Officer readers who took the time Profile earlier. How well do you get along with this group? Think about it at the next CLO Symposium.

A landmark study by ASTD and IBM interviewed CLOs and CxOs at 26 leading companies across 11 industries (see The C-level and the Value of Learning, T+D magazine, October 2005). Reading between the lines, the CXOs appear to be Future thinkers; the CLOs are Past and Present thinkers.

C-level officers want their CLO to build the foundation for transforming the company not just to get people up to speed on today’s needs.

The researchers asked how the learning function contributed value to three strategically important business needs: accelerating growth, enabling transformation, and increasing productivity.

The CLOs reported that most learning was technical and focused on skills; training enables the organization to operate. The CxOs said they expected CLOs to lead, not respond. CxOs saw learning as the major investment in driving their businesses forward. Quotations from the study highlight the gap between the two groups’ expectations.

CxOs said,

“The learning function has to become more strategic, otherwise it is an unaffordable luxury.”

“Learning has to bring customers and along the change journey. It has to build the platform to enable us to change the business.”

“CLOs need to build capabilities to address future challenges of the enterprise.”

CLOs said,

“The strategic value of learning is to reduce the cost of turnover and increased employee engagement.”

“The business plan for learning ties directly to business unit goals. Also incorporate our roll-up of individuals’ development plans.”

“CLOs are focused on performance and talent issues related to the current needs of business units.”

Now that you know your time perspective, MindTime suggests you think about your role in your organization. How can you make your particular way of thinking an asset to the group and a contribution to the greater purpose? By being aware of your creative role.

Your thinking style tells you where to look for your most important gift — and what you have to offer others. Vision truth, and productivity: these are the universal values that make a company effective.

For a management team to be successful, each value must be present and respected:

If you are a Future thinker, your role is to carry the vision and ensure that your group embraces innovation, creativity, and receptivity to change.

If you are a Past thinker, your role is to gather true and accurate information and make sure the group considers it carefully.

If your a Present thinker, your role is to help things get moving, and your focus is on planning, low, and harmony.

 

cloAn edited version of this article appears in the December 2013 issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine.

Free Jay webinar with prizes

webinarannouncement

Join me for an hour on the last day of April to explore how to make learning stick. Register. I’ve unearthed some exciting material about how people convert learning to action in the workplace — how to make it stick.

You folks know so much about how to increase the productivity of learning. Something old, something new, something small, something larger… for the most part, you have recipes that make learning more profitable and pleasant. I don’t want to overlook stuff that’s easy to do and particularly effective. Help me out; win a prize.

Share your secret sauce in a comment below (or email me if you must).

Prizes

booksOn April 30, I’ll award a copy of a book I really liked (or wrote) to a baker’s dozen of participants:

  1. Informal Learning by Jay Cross 
  2. A New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown
  3. Working Smarter Fieldbook by Jay Cross
  4. Implementing eLearning  by Jay Cross
  5. Engaging Learners by Clark Quinn
  6. Social Learning Handbook by Jane Hart 
  7. The New Social Learning by Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner
  8. The Connected Company by Dave Gray
  9. Now You See It by Cathy Davidson
  10. Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
  11. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  12. The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management by Stephen Denning
  13. Designing mLearning by Clark Quinn

Harbinger will also award software. Raptivity® is a powerful yet simple interactivity building tool which helps you create outstanding learning content without any programming. It has 180+ customizable interactions which helps in adding a new dimension to learning.

Remember to Register.

Making business decisions: the hand and the heart

Inside Learning Technologies is an important magazine in the U.K. (Isn’t it odd that while the net spans the globe, learning magazines remain confined to their home countries?)

For the current issue, I wrote an article entitled Making Business Decision: the Hand and the Heart. This is the sequel Continue reading Making business decisions: the hand and the heart